Cletus Mushanawani and Nyore Madzianike
Zimbabwe must take a leaf from Uganda to strengthen its investigation tactics and subsequent prosecution, to ensure convictions on cases of corruption, Uganda’s top anti-corruption judge has said.
While several high-profile corruption cases have been taken to the courts in Zimbabwe, the conviction rate has remained low because of weak investigations and prosecutions.
In an interview in Harare yesterday after paying a courtesy call on Chief Justice Luke Malaba at his chambers at the Constitutional Court, Justice Lawrence Gidudu, who is in the country to train Zimbabwe’s Judiciary ahead of the establishment of anti-corruption courts, said Uganda had a 95 percent conviction rate because of the training police, prosecutors and judicial officers undertook in systematic detection and prosecution.
Uganda has over the years taken the training of its investigations and court officers seriously and between 1995 and 2015, hundreds of judges, magistrates and prosecutors participated in the Danida Fellowship Centre’s four-week law and justice course in Denmark.
“We are fighting corruption and we have set up our courts which have been in existence for the past 10 years. It is a specialised court and it is very successful in dealing with corruption of big and small people. Zimbabwe has corruption like Uganda and should be commended for setting up a court to deal with that problem.
“Corruption is a sophisticated science. It is not an ordinary industrial crime and if you are a judge and you are on analogue, you will not be able to understand it.
“We are here in Zimbabwe to raise their (officers of the anti-corruption courts) digital minds because corruption has migrated to digital platforms,” said Justice Gidudu.
He said the high conviction rate in Uganda was because all sectors involved in the fight against corruption understood their roles.
“We have 95 percent conviction rate in our country because the police and prosecutors have anti-corruption units which bring to court very strong evidence. Zimbabwe should take the same route.
“We have met the judicial officers, police and prosecutors, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, but tomorrow (today) and Thursday we are meeting to share what happens in Uganda. Once they sharpen their skills and bring credible evidence, the courts will be able to do their job effectively.
“Corruption will not end in a day, but institutions to fight it should be there so that if you do it and you are caught, you will not escape. We are saying corruption should be fought and won at some stage and the court should go back to the ordinary court,” he said.
Zimbabwean High Court judges have been criticising prosecutors from the lower courts for lacking enthusiasm and determination in their approach to legal matters, resulting in convicted persons being acquitted on appeal.
Judges have raised concern over criminal appeals at the High Court, saying there was laxity in the manner in which prosecutors in the lower courts handled criminal matters.
Strong systems, according to Justice Gidudu, ensure a decline in corruption cases.
“The numbers of corruption cases are declining in Uganda because the courts bite. We are biting and frightening the corrupt ones, but it does not mean the corruption is not there. The corrupt ones are adopting new strategies and we need to keep abreast with the new methods.
“We have created an efficient system in the court and criminals know that if you go to court there are no two sides to it. Once one is brought before the courts, conviction will be there,” he said.
Justice Gidudu expressed satisfaction with the laws which Zimbabwe has in fighting corruption and money laundering cases.
“Zimbabwe has all the statutes required. We have looked at the cyber-crime, anti-corruption Act, money laundering Act and we are satisfied with what you have. We have similar acts and what was lacking is the investigators, prosecutors and the court to create the forum for dealing with corruption.
“Coming here is just energising. The judges here are focused. We are doing some fellowship,” he said.
Justice Malaba said: “We are grateful to have Justice Gidudu here. We are showing African solidarity in discharging our duties. His experience and expertise will go a long way in equipping our staff with the required skills to fight and win the war against corruption.”